Cadbury has officially exited the soft drinks industry after completing the sale of its Australian Schweppes Beverages business to Japan's Asahi for A$1.18bn (US$762m).

Cadbury announced today (3 April) that the deal has been completed.

Todd Stitzer, CEO of Cadbury, said: "The successful sale of Schweppes Australia has completed Cadbury's transformation into a pure-play total confectionery business. Cadbury is now well-positioned with a clear strategy to improve performance, a competitively differentiated portfolio of strong brands and attractive markets, and a committed management team with the capabilities and experience to deliver our plan."

With eight manufacturing sites and 11 distribution centres, Schweppes Australia employs around 1,500 staff. In the year to the end of December 2007, Schweppes Australia reported sales of A$749m, with EBITDA of A$78m.

The company is the second largest player in the Australian soft drinks market, whose owned brands include Schweppes, Cottee's, Solo and Spring Valley. Franchised brands include Pepsi, Sunkist and Gatorade.

Cadbury spun off its US drinks arm, now Dr Pepper Snapple, last May.